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Navigating the 3 great challenges of entrepreneurship


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By Karima Mariama-Arthur

Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. While many romanticise the idea, the path to success is less idyllic.

It’s true. Passion is critical, but there are other, equally important factors to consider. Perseverance, for one, can make or break your ability to escalate a goal into fruition. “Talent counts, but effort counts twice,” says University of Pennsylvania psychologist Angela Duckworth, and author of Grit: Perseverance and Passion for Long Terms Goals. 

Sustaining effort over long periods of time is necessary to avoid the “plateau of arrested development,” which breeds mediocrity and invites the tendency to abandon tasks, Duckworth noted in a recent talk. This is a particularly salient point for entrepreneurs.

But affirmative skill sets aren’t the only thing entrepreneurs need to be successful. Learning to navigate core challenges along the way is also par for the course. If you are serious about becoming an entrepreneur, roll up your sleeves. There are no short cuts, passes or easy ways out. And, how well you perform while in the trenches will determine your success.

Are you prepared to confront the challenge of entrepreneurship? Consider the following aspects of trench work.

1. Fear

Fear is a common, yet very unpopular emotion. And, sometimes it can feel downright ominous. Truth be told, we’ve all felt it at one time or another. But, when internalised, it can have a crippling effect on your psyche, segueing to doubt, disillusionment and hampering your ability to make steady progress. Instead of becoming a casualty of fear, entrepreneurs must embrace it to courageously address the message that it represents. By becoming more self-aware, you may discover that additional preparation, caution or simply a change in mindset is all that’s required to effectively confront your fear. The bottom line? Fear – whether of failure or success – is only a stumbling block if you allow it to be.

2. Distractions

The average attention span is eight seconds. Distractions cut that shelf-life in half. Are you willing and able to surrender your preoccupation with things that matter the least, for the benefit of those that matter the most? This means prioritising needs and long-term gratification, over immediate, temporary satisfaction. You must also recognise the kind of distractions you experience most frequently and their potential to throw you off course. A key component of dealing with distractions is to develop a mechanism for confronting them when they arise. Being proactive and consistent is essential to successfully overcoming them now and in the future.

3. Work ethic

Are you motivated by the carrot or the stick? Whatever drives your decision-making process will also be an important force in shaping your work ethic. A hearty combination of both the quantity and quality of effort put forth will compel your results. For example, staying up late or getting up early may be required to meet a critical deadline. But make no mistake: Working hard does not equal working smart. Be intentional about how you organise your time and specific about the results you seek. Strategy and execution are inextricably linked to your ability to produce precise outcomes. If you are willing to do the work, then the writing is on the wall and destiny is yours for the creation.

If the trench work of entrepreneurship emboldens your resolve – high-five. You’ve conquered half the battle. Now go and do the work.

(The writer is Founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport.)


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